Capitol Records

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Capitol Records logo

Capitol Records , or Capitol for short , is an American music label that belongs to the Universal Music Group .


The Capitol Tower - the headquarters and recording studio of Capitol Records in Hollywood with the Hollywood Jazz Mural on the south wall
Capitol - single record

Capitol Records was founded in 1942 by songwriter Johnny Mercer . He received financial support from the film producer Buddy DeSylva and the businessman Glenn Wallichs. The latter was the owner of Music City , at that time the largest record store in Los Angeles ( California ). Capitol was the first label on the US West Coast, competing with RCA-Victor , Columbia and Decca , all of which were based in New York . Capitol had a recording studio in Los Angeles and a second in New York. It was also possible to take pictures at other locations with mobile equipment.

The firm's early artists included Benny Carter , Stan Kenton , Billie Holiday , Paul Whiteman , Martha Tilton , Margaret Whiting, and Ella Mae Morse . After Capitol and Decca got the record strike under control, the label got its first gold record in 1942 for the title Cow Cow Boogie and had a surprise hit with the track Straighten Up and Fly Right by the newly signed trio of Nat King Cole . With Dorsey veteran Paul Weston as arranger and Jo Stafford , Decca developed an in-house style. By 1946, Capitol had sold 42 million records and was now one of the so-called Big Six studios. The label's best-known artists in the 1940s included Les Baxter , Bing Crosby , Les Paul , Fats Domino , Peggy Lee and Les Brown . When Stafford and Weston moved to Columbia, Pete Rugolo took their place, bringing modernists to Capitol like Miles Davis and Tadd Dameron, as well as the bop bands of Benny Goodman and Charlie Barnet .

In the 1940s Mickey Goldsen worked as the head of the Capitol Songs department at the label, which was one of the first to have a label-owned music publisher; Goldsen had a 25% stake in it. In 1950 he acquired the remaining shares in the publishing house from Mercer and DeSylva to create the music publisher Criterion Music Corp. to found and left Capitol.

In 1950, Capitol moved into its own studio on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood and grew to become one of the largest companies in the entertainment industry by the mid-1950s. The main focus of the business was on light music. The Andrews Sisters , Jackie Gleason , Rick Nelson , Ray Anthony , Bobby Darin , Andy Griffith , Shirley Bassey , Martin Denny , The Kingston Trio , Judy Garland , Frank Sinatra , Ferrante & Teicher , The Four Freshmen , Al Martino , Nancy Wilson and Gene Vincent were among the most successful artists Capitol had under contract in the 1950s.

Capitol had become a sub-label called Angel Records established to it classical music publishing. Most of the recordings took place in Europe, or the press rights were bought from European labels.

In 1955, the English record company EMI acquired Capitol Records for the amount of 8.5 million US dollars . Shortly thereafter, EMI had a new studio built with the Capitol Records Building at Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles, in order to bring the American studio on the same level as the technically more advanced English Abbey Road studio in London .

In the following years Capitol signed artists like Badfinger , The Band , Glen Campbell , Joe Cocker , Grand Funk Railroad , Jimi Hendrix , Steve Miller Band , Pink Floyd , Linda Ronstadt and Peter Tosh or took over the distribution of their records. In the mid-1960s, however, it was two other bands that made 65% of the revenue: The Beach Boys and The Beatles , for which Capitol did a lot of merchandising (around 1964 giving away T-shirts).

In the 1970s, Capitol founded two alternative labels: EMI America and Manhattan Records . The new artists on these labels included April Wine , Blondie , Burning Spear , Buzzcocks , Rosanne Cash , George Clinton , Sammy Hagar , Heart , John Hiatt , The Knack , Bonnie Raitt , Minnie Riperton , Bob Seger , The Specials , The Stranglers , George Thorogood and Wings .

In 1979 Capitol Records was incorporated into the EMI Music Worldwide department .

Capitol added a variety of artists from different genres to its catalog during the 1980s , including artists such as Beastie Boys , Butthole Surfers , Concrete Blonde , Lloyd Cole , Crowded House , Duran Duran , Eazy-E , Great White , Billy Idol , King Tee , Dave Koz , Megadeth , Kylie Minogue , NWA , Pet Shop Boys , Poison , Robbie Robertson , Queen , Queensryche , Red Hot Chili Peppers , Tom Cochrane , REM , Roxette , Brian Setzer , Spandau Ballet or Tina Turner .

In the 1990s came artists like Blind Melon , Meredith Brooks , Coldplay , The Dandy Warhols , Dilated Peoples , Doves , Faith Evans , Everclear , Geri Halliwell , Ice Cube , Idlewild , Jane's Addiction , Jimmy Eat World , Ras Kass , Ben Lee , Less Than Jake , Luscious Jackson , Helmut Lotti , Marcy Playground , Mazzy Star , MC Eiht , MC Ren , The Moffatts , Liz Phair , Lisa Marie Presley , Radiohead , Snoop Dogg , Starsailor , Supergrass , Telepopmusik , Richard Thompson and Robbie Williams .

In 2001, EMI merged the Capitol Records label with the Priority Records label.

At the beginning of the new millennium, artists such as Skye Sweetnam , Jennette McCurdy and Katy Perry were added.

The Capitol Tower

The headquarters of Capitol Records is one of the most outstanding buildings in Hollywood. The 13-story earthquake-proof tower designed by the architect Welton Beckett was the first round office building in the world at the time of its completion in 1956 and now houses several recording studios. The appearance of the building tries to imitate a stack of singles on a record player. The rectangular ground floor was later added to the tower.

The Echo Chambers

The Capitol Studios have unique echo chambers, they are built 9 meters below ground like underground concrete bunkers. The sound isolation and acoustic properties allow sound engineers to add reverberation to the tracks .

The echo chambers were developed as trapeze rooms by the recording artist and sound expert Les Paul . You have 25 centimeter thick concrete walls and meter thick concrete ceilings. The rooms contain loudspeakers on one side and microphones on the other, in this configuration they offer reverberation for up to 5 seconds. Sound engineers "use it like a painter's palette," as a Capitol Records employee once put it. The sound is sent from the studios to loudspeakers in the echo chambers and picked up again by the microphones in the chamber. The amount of reverberation is controlled via the mixer.

The studios are threatened by the construction of nearby condominiums, buildings and underground parking lots to be built within 6 meters of the underground chambers.

Jazz collections

Over the long years of Capitol Records' history, music has been produced from a wide variety of fields. As an example of re-releases, here are the collections of Mosaic Records .

In addition, the following collections from the Capitol catalog have been published by Mosaic Records since 1983:


Individual evidence

  1. See Will Friedwald, p. 143.
  2. Andrew Barker's obituary in Variety  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  3. David Leaf: The Capitol Years in: Kingsley Abbot (ed.): The Beach Boys and Brian Wilson , Hannibal-Verlag, St. Andrä-Wierter 1998, ISBN 3-85445-160-1
  4. ^ Brian Roylance, Nicky Page, Derek Taylor : The Beatles Anthology. (Chronicle Books, San Francisco 2000). German translation: Ullstein, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-550-07132-9 , p. 116.

Web links

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